The Benefits of Short Workouts
The Benefits of Short Workouts
In days gone by, the general messaging around exercise was that it had to be hard and it had to be long. If it wasn’t an hour long Bums, Tums and Thighs class, then it wasn’t doing us any good.
Whilst an hour long aerobics class certainly is good for us in terms of fat burn and lean muscle gain, it’s no longer the truth that sweating it out for 60 minutes is the only way to get fit. Sure, exercise needs to be challenging, but it doesn’t necessarily need to be long.
Short, sharp bouts of intense exercise have been scientifically proven to improve fitness, reduce fat (including the dangerous visceral fat that surrounds our organs), increase lean muscle mass and due to the release of endorphins, provide us with that 'feel good feeling'. Not only that, studies show that this kind of exercise can improve our heart health, cholesterol levels, blood sugar levels and even our cellular ageing.
So, short, sharp exercise sounds like the Holy Grail, right? Probably, yes, but the emphasis is on the word “sharp” – the exercise, whilst being over in less than 15-20 minutes generally, needs to be intense.
The most common form of short intense workouts is HIIT, or high intensity interval training. Some HIIT style workouts aren’t actually called HIIT, such as our 10 minute Cardio Crush Step with Trainer Lily, but the principle is the same – working out at your absolute maximum capacity, really really pushing it, for ten to 20 minutes.
The benefits of HIIT workouts are only achieved if we’re putting in maximum effort. We should feel by the end as if we have nothing left, our heart rate should be high and we should be feeling (very) sweaty and out of breath!
There are five main benefits to completing short, intense workouts:
- Time – time is probably the biggest benefit to completing short workouts, because time is precious, right? If we only have a few short minutes in our schedule to exercise, then it can be easy to think, “oh well, it's not enough time, so I won’t exercise today”. But if we can squeeze in a ten minute session before we start the day, we’re setting off an excellent foot!
- Motivation - knowing that we’ll be finished exercising within less than 15 or 20 minutes is often enough to get us going. We’re also more likely to stick to an exercise routine if we know we don't have to commit hours to the cause.
- Strength - moving our bodies at an intense rate means that our muscles are working hard, and this means that we’re layering on more muscle mass. If a lean, toned physique is what we’re after, then this is ideal!
- Calorie and fat burn - working out at such a high intensity means that we’re burning energy - and this means that we’re burning calories, and fat, perfect if we’re working towards a weight loss goal.
- Heart healthy - studies consistently show that regular, short bursts of exercise help to improve our cholesterol levels, blood sugar levels and blood pressure. These can all improve our overall metabolic health and that of our cardiovascular system, lowing our risk of developing heart disease and type 2 diabetes.
So let’s all hear it for HIIT!
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